ARUNDEL – Ask any nonprofit about the value of dedicated, energetic volunteers and the response you will get is likely to be something along the lines of “priceless.” Volunteers dig in, and they get it done.

Recently the American Cancer Society recognized one such individual, Arundel resident Elaine Morse Hodnett, who has been volunteering with Strides Against Breast Cancer for 15 years.

Her work with the cancer society, which began in New Hampshire and has continued since she and her husband Steve moved to Maine several years ago, has expanded over the years to include filling other volunteer gigs with the agency.

It all began when a friend discovered she had a breast lump, said Hodnett, so she got involved with an American Cancer Society fundraising walk called Strides Against Breast Cancer in the Granite State and continued after moving to Maine.

In 2012, Hodnett married her husband, Steve. In a recent interview, she said she’d had her annual mammogram not long before the wedding.

“I went on our honeymoon knowing I had a positive test,” said Hodnett. After their return, there was more testing, and the outcome turned out to be what she described as “an angry lymph node.” The best news ever was that it wasn’t cancer.

“I’ve always believed you should pay your blessings forward, so this is the charity I tied my flag to,” she said.

Elaine and Steve have raised more than $20,000 for the American Cancer Society and have spent countless hours volunteering at various fundraising events, said Theresa Freeman, the agency’s director of communications.

Hodnett has been a member of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Greater Portland Event Leadership Team for four years, was co-chair for a year and then chaired the committee in 2019 and 2020. Hodnett has also been a member of the leadership team of the Couleur Masquerade Ball in Portland, and there’s more.

Elaine Hodnett of Arundel, with her husband, Steve, has been recognized by the American Cancer Society for her volunteer work with the agency. Courtesy Photo

“For the past two years she has personally driven her husband’s truck to Framingham, Massachusetts – a four-hour round-trip, to pick up orders of flowers for the Daffodil Days fundraiser for donors throughout the state of Maine,” said Freeman. “As well, she lends her time at the ACS information tables at Portland Sea Dogs games.”

Retired from her job as an angiographer in the cardiac catheterization lab at Maine Medical Center, Hodnett operates her business Heart & Hands Mobile CPR and continues her volunteer work.

“Elaine is always willing to help, from recruiting new event leadership team members and volunteers, soliciting sponsors and auction items, (staffing) tables at events in the area, to planning and day-of event coordination,” said Reven Oliver, ACS Community Development Manager. “Even through her own breast cancer scare, and through caring for her father who is facing cancer, Elaine consistently shows determination, integrity and compassion in her interactions with the society.”

Oliver recalled the 2018 Strides wall, when Elaine and Steve stayed “to the bitter end” to help clean up.

Hodnett was awarded the Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Value Award, named for dedicated Maine ACS volunteer.

“Any way you can, you need to be a good steward,” said Hodnett of her work with ACS. “I get as much as I give.”

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